Moscow: From seeding clouds to reviving
agricultural land, Moscow`s experience after Chernobyl can be
used by Japan as it tries to contain damage from its quake-hit
nuclear plant, Russian experts said.
Concerns have grown over the unraveling crisis at the
Fukushima power station as Japan struggles to cool down
nuclear fuel rods after cooling systems were knocked out by
the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
While the scope of the catastrophe is not likely to
reach the levels of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster under the
Soviet Union, Russian experts said Japan could minimise damage
by using its experience like seeding clouds and recultivating
"The experience of Chernobyl should be used," said
Alexey Yablokov, a radiobiology expert and former
environmental advisor to Russia`s first president Boris
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, it is
important that Japan and neighbouring countries control the
spread of radioactive materials accumulated in the clouds and
ensure that they do not fall over large cities, he said.
Consequences for Moscow and other large industrial
cities in central Russia could have been much more serious if
the Soviet government had not carried out cloud-seeding, the
process of artificially altering clouds to change the weather.
"It was a secret programme, and ethically it is
questionable -- Moscow was saved from radioactive rains at the
expense of smaller cities," said Yablokov.
Clouds on the way to the capital were seeded with
various chemicals and fell on the outlying regions of Tula,
Ryazan and Kaluga instead.
Clouds bearing radionuclides from Fukushima could be
forced to precipitate over the Pacific Ocean before they
reached cities such as Russia`s Vladivostok, which is home to
about 600,000 people.
The weather control practice is frequently used by
Moscow to guarantee clear skies. Former city mayor Yury
Luzhkov was criticised for causing rain in the neighbouring
regions on days of celebrations in the capital, such as World
War II Victory Day parades.
"There should be planes ready with a load of re-agents
like silver iodide. One can even use cement" in order to make
rain fall over the ocean instead of large cities where it
would cause an enormous health hazard, said Yablokov.
While Fukushima`s reactor type is not likely to spew
as much radioactive material as Chernobyl -- where burning
graphite caused it to go up several kilometers and fall out
over an extensive area -- other factors like nuclear fuel
containing plutonium pose new risks, experts said.